Skip to main content

Full text of "My Country And My People"

See other formats

PROLOGUE                                 IJ

heart at one, is no easy state of grace to attain to. Foi
it involves no less than the salvaging of an old culture, like
the sorting of family treasures, and even the connoisseur's eyes
are sometimes deceived and his fingers sometimes falter. It
requires courage and that rare thing, honesty, and that still
rarer thing, a constant questioning activity of the mind.

But he has a distinct advantage over the foreign observer.
For he is a Chinese, and as a Chinese, he not only sees with
his mind but he also feels with his heart, and he knows tha*
the blood, surging in his veins in tides of pride and shame
is Chinese blood, a mystery of mysteries which carries withii
its bio-chemical constitution the past and the future of China
bearer of all its pride and shame and of all its glories and it
iniquities.   The analogy of the family treasure is therefore
incomplete and inadequate, for that unconscious nationa
heritage is within him and is part of himself.  He has perhaps
learned to play English football but he does not love football;
he has perhaps learned to admire American efficiency, but his
soul revolts against efficiency; he has perhaps learned to use
table napkins, but he hates table napkins, and all through
Schubert's melodies and Brahms' songs, he hears, as an over-
tone, the echo of age-old folk songs and pastoral lyrics of the
Orient, luring him back.   He explores the beauties and glories
of the West, but he comes back to the East, his Oriental blood
overcoming him when he is approaching forty. He sees the por-
trait of his father wearing a Chinese silk cap, and he discards
his Western dress and slips into Chinese gowns and slippers, oh,
so comfortable, so peaceful and comfortable, for in his Chinese
gowns and slippers his soul comes to rest. He cannot understand
the Western dog-collar any more, and wonders how he ever stood
it for so long. He does not play football any more, either, but
begins to cultivate Chinese hygiene, and saunters along in
the mulberry fields and bamboo groves and willow banks for'
his exercise, and even this is not a "country walk" as the English
understand it, but just an Oriental saunter, good for the body
and good for the soul. He hates the word "exercise." Exercise
for what?   It is a ridiculous Western notion.  Why, even the
sight of respectable grown-up men dashing about in a field
for a ball now seems ridiculous, supremely ridiculous; and more